Run 1000 Miles Ambassador

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness… so I can’t quite put into words just how excited I am about this. I’m jumping up and down squealing kind of excited and a little choked up and overwhelmed. But let’s go back a bit. In November Trail Running Magazine asked for expressions of interest for becoming an ambassador for the 2019 iteration of their Run1000Miles challenge. I paid no attention. Kath commented on the post saying she nominated me, I still paid no attention because, come on, it’s me. I’m no running ambassador. But there were lots of positive comments and ‘likes’ and encouragement so I thought what the hell and sent the email.

I didn’t expect to get picked. I am not the obvious choice when you think ‘running’ so not an obvious choice for promoting a running challenge or for encouraging others. I’m not your typical running role model or poster girl for physical activity. I thought that maybe I could be a good ambassador precisely because I’m not what you might expect in that role and it seems that some agreed. So let me tell you a bit about the challenge, a bit about me and the challenge and a bit about why being an ambassador for it means the world and confirms everything I love about the challenge and the group.

The challenge is simple. Sign up, join the facebook group, run, track your miles, post about your runs, share pictures, encourage others, be encouraged, see where you get to, done. Some will reach 1000 miles before Easter, others won’t get to 500 in the year. It doesn’t matter, it’s about the journey (sounds nauseatingly cliched, I know but it’s true). It’s about having a great running year however you define ‘great’. It’s about getting outside, enjoying being out, about encouraging and being encouraged, about learning and sharing and most of all about enjoying running.

I first joined Run1000Miles in 2017. Kath had joined and she kept saying how lovely the group was and that I should join. I just thought it wasn’t for me – it’s a 1000 mile challenge by Trail Running Magazine – not for me. 1000 miles was so far beyond my imagination and trails were and often still are scary things that cause me to fall over and/or freak out. But then curiosity got the better of me and I joined and lurked in the Facebook group for a bit and I realised that the group of people were my kind of people. I’d found my running tribe. They welcomed me, slow, ploddy, fat, scared of trails me into the group and they were (and still are!) prepared to share my little successes and wins, help me through my tricky patches when it seemed me and running were going our separate ways and share their experience and knowledge to make me a better runner. With their help and encouragement and, frankly, their belief in me I pushed myself through a tough 7 miler on News Years Eve 2017 to finish the year on exactly 500 miles. 

I was excited to sign up for 2018. I really wanted to try and run more miles. I won’t make 1000 but I’m going to get closer than I ever thought possible. 1000 miles was my wildest dreams goal, my ambitious but possibly realistic goal A was 750 miles (I had B and C goals to but they don’t matter now!). I’m less than 5 miles away from achieving the 750 now. I love the group on Facebook. There is a notable absence of arrogant, patronising, rude or all of the above twats. There is a genuine understanding and acceptance that we are all at different levels and that my lightening fast run pace might well be someone else’s slow recovery jog; that a mile can be a huge challenge and covering it a big win; that miles and pace and hours are just numbers. I am in awe of some of the runners in the group – some because they’re fast, some because they can go so far, some because they can go so high (and come back down in one piece), some because they deal with mud like it’s nothing, some because they get up every morning and despite (and sometimes because of) the demons we all have pull their trainers on and run. Most of all though I have valued the the stories, the encouragement, the support and the inspiration and I have loved being able to be a part of that. 

Having me as a 2019 ambassador confirms that I was right about the trail running community and particularly the community we have built in the Run1000Miles Facebook group – it really is for all of us. It doesn’t matter where in our running journeys we are. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow we go, how much we walk, where we run, whether we can run far or not, whether we can run vertically up and back down, whether we splash through puddles or slide through mud, get stuck in boggy moors or stumble our way through woodland tree roots. What matters is that we all run and get outside and that is somehow important to us in and that we understand that and that we support each other and celebrate each other’s successes. I don’t have any sort of sporting memories that go anywhere near that so I’m making new ones and maybe as ambassador I can help others re-write their relationship with exercise and running in particular. 

Join me  – sign up here and then join the Facebook Group and see for yourself – try it, you might just surprise yourself by running a whole lot more than you thought you could. 

Running 500 miles

I have run 500 miles in 2017 (Go on, who is singing the song in your head? All together now: I would walk 500 miles…). I left it to the last minute but 500 miles it is. I am really pleased with that and a little bit proud. 500 miles is a long way. Some of those miles were bloody horrible. They really were but sitting here reflecting on a year of running I don’t really seem to remember those.

Here are the memories that I do cherish from one hell of rollercoaster ride:

The places I’ve run

 

I have loved seeing the seasons change on the loops I run from home, how things look different at different times of the year or even just different times of the day in different light and depending on which way round I’m running the loop. I’ve enjoyed running away from home in places as varied as Seahouses, The Lake District,  Mexico City and Disney World. I’ve loved how running makes you see even familiar places in a slightly different way and how it lets you explore unfamiliar ones. Some of these runs were hard, really hard and included meltdowns but I wouldn’t change a thing. They are now part of my story and part of an awesome running year.

Discovering I’m even more stubborn than I thought (hard to believe, I know)

On several occasions this year I have tried something new – a new trail, a distance I haven’t done for a while, a new surface (think beach), a ridiculous hill… and failed. I img_6555have abandoned several runs because I just couldn’t find the mental strength to push through and on each of those occasions I have gone back out, later that day or the next, and I have done it. I have run each and every one of those routes and every time I found something I didn’t know I had, gritted my teeth and kept putting one foot in front of the other. Towards the end of the year I have found some of that determination or stubbornness without having to give up and later go back out. I’m getting mentally tougher.

The creatures seen

I have been so lucky with wildlife sightings this year. It’s quite staggering to think that I have regularly seen kingfishers; that the flash blue and orange is now almost familiar – 21150784_807647049415445_1183992284_nawesome but familiar. Herons continue to be my good omen bird. They’re so majestic and calm and quiet and somehow they install a sense of quiet confidence in me whenever I see one. There have been regular sightings of smaller birds including dippers, wrens, sparrows, robins, all manner of tits, wagtails… and several sightings of woodpeckers and kestrels. I’ve seen deer, rabbits, a mink, hedgehogs, squirrels and a rat or two. The ducks, geese and swans along the canal have been my cheer squad and several times now we’ve seen red kites at Bolton Abbey (as well as at Bramham Park during Endure24). We also saw some very serious road runners and cyclists and decided they’re funny creatures.

The events

Events featured far less heavily in 2017 than in 2016 but I enjoyed Endure24 for theIMG_7784
camaraderie and our team  – the running was secondary. I didn’t really enjoy the Lakeland Trails Helvellyn event for the running but I enjoyed having completed it and it once again showed me that the impossible is possible. Kath and I learned a lot about each other that day and we’ve changed how we run as a result. It was worth it for that alone.

The people

 

 

I don’t like people generally. So to have a section of this post about the people is slightly odd. However, there are a few who have contributed significantly to me running at all and running 500 miles this year. First, there’s Kath of course. I remain slightly bemused (but very grateful) that she has so far resisted what must be a near overwhelming urge to push me in the canal (or the Wharfe or any other waterway). I wouldn’t be running if it wasn’t for her. Then there are those of my friends, not all runners, who humour me by listening to my running stories, who ‘like’ my posts, who are more supportive than I suspect they realise. I’m looking at you here Bex, Kat, Tammy, Donna, Jenny, Robin, Heather, Sammie, Jo (and others I will have forgotten – sorry). I’m sure having a gym buddy in Nick made me go to the gym and stretch (even if not much else) just enough to avoid serious injury and my online running club continues to provide advice and

IMG_8298
Combined total of 1413.44 miles in 2017

support specific to running as a fat lass at the back. What has surprised me though is how much difference the support of the other Facebook group I joined made. The Trail Running Magazine’s Run1000Miles group has been epic. I thought I’d feel like an outsider at best. I thought I’d be intimidated and daunted but the opposite is true. Seeing the inspiring posts, amazing photos, staggering achievements and the support, advice, encouragement and trail running love in the group made me see running and runners in a whole new way. Without that group I wouldn’t have run 500 miles. I am excited to share their adventures and share mine with them in 2018.

Happy New Year!

 

 

Getting over 270 miles this year

Well I did something slightly odd for me today – which is why I am writing a second post. I decided that I couldn’t leave my mileage total for the year on 268.97 overnight. That was far too close to 270 miles. I therefore decided to run again – just a short one. An out and back to go feed Dino. That would be just over a mile and a half there and back so would get me over the 270 miles. I also thought it would be a good opportunity to try the New Balance Minimus shoes I bought second hand a little while ago. I haven’t tried them yet because I didn’t want to wear them on a long run or on a route I wasn’t used to so somehow there hasn’t been an opportunity.

Anyway, I set off after work. I felt pretty good in spite of this morning’s run. I felt fairly comfortable going down the road and turned right up the hill and also still felt pretty good. I pushed up the hill happily and kept running. Just before I got to the field I had to stand in and let a car through so I just stopped the watch there and looked at it, and looked at it some more. I had just run .8 of a mile at about 10 minute mile pace  – I never run that pace. I think I’ve run that route once at 10.24 pace but that felt hard and I was pushing. This run felt almost effortless.

Screenshot 2017-08-07 17.04.58

I fed Dino and set off back. I knew the way back would be slower – more of this is uphill but I tried really hard to just run and not look at my watch. I struggled when I got to the final slope. Ilkley Road always always gets me. I got about half way up and then had to walk a few steps. I glanced at my watch and saw that I was under 12 minute mile pace. Again I was stunned. That never happens on this stretch. I started running again and pushed up the hill as fast as I could. This is the hardest I’ve ever run uphill. I managed the return in 11.40 pace – the return wasn’t effortless, it was bloody hard but it felt great to have done it. I also achieved the first ever Strava goal I’d set just for fun.

So the shoes must be magic shoes. There really isn’t another explanation, the shoes are magic. Maybe they’re laced with pixie dust or maybe their previous owner sent some of her speed with them (I must ask her if she’s suddenly got slower). More seriously though, I think this shows how much of a difference running consistently coupled with strength exercises and some hill and speed work can do. After finding this morning’s run so hard, it was really exciting to go out, run hard, manage it and enjoy it. While I won’t make 1000 miles this year, being part of the Trail Running Magazine Run 1000 Miles in 2017 challenge is making me get out and run more frequently and for longer –  my bid for 500 miles this year is on – I’m on 270.6 year to date.

Screenshot 2017-08-07 17.04.26

Fiddlesticks Fartlek

Well well well. Today it said something a bit scary on the plan Kath has drawn up for me. It said: RW Fartlek. So that’s the structured fartlek I thought I’d outlined previously. I’ve just checked and I’ve outlined all sorts but not that session! Anyway, all will become clear below! I was a little apprehensive about it but I was also looking forward to seeing how I’d do. Kath has been doing fairly regular sessions and it seems to be helping her improve speed. So after a fairly lazy slow start to the morning we got up, had half a banana and set off. The first bit is a 10 minute warm up so we ran down to the canal taking it fairly easy. Then the first fast section is 5 minutes followed by a minute 30 secs break. I found that hard but ok, towards the end my tummy rumbled dangerously but was fine and then my mind went.

I walked after the 5 minutes and I started the 4 minutes but barely even did a minute before my mind shut me down. I just couldn’t make myself do it. I really wanted to do it and I really didn’t at the same time. There was the usual snot and tears of a meltdown and we sat on a bench for a while and watched some swans. Then I walked home with my tail between my legs. I wanted to just curl up in bed and ignore the world.

I hate that feeling of my mind getting the better of me in that way. It makes me feel weak and pathetic and quite a bit stupid. So I resolved that I wanted to try again later on in the day. We had a South American brunch and then I caught up on several back issues of Runner’s World and Trail Running Magazine. Eventually I was ready to go again. Apprehensive this time- well scared as hell that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I pulled my trainers on and off we went.

  • 10 minute warm up: 12.43 pace;
  • 5 minutes: 10.27;
  • 1minute 30 second rest
  • 4 minutes: 10.18 pace;
  • 1minute 30 second rest
  • 3 minutes: 10.18 pace;
  • (then 5.5 minute rest);
  • 2 minutes: 9.52 pace;
  • 1minute 30 second rest
  • 1.5 minutes: 9.47 pace;
  • 1minute 30 second rest
  • 1 minute: 9.29 pace;
  • 1minute 30 second rest
  • 30 seconds: 8.37 pace;
  • 1 minute rest
  • 30 seconds: 7.39 pace.
  • 10 minute cool down (mostly walked and stopped for picture with swans) 15.16 pace – yes I did sort of manage to get back up.

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So what’s the lesson here? My mind is sometimes idiotic and stupid and sometimes I can’t do anything about that. My mind is also determined and focused and sometimes it can do pretty much anything. Anyway, that’s a total of 4 miles for the full fartlek session, another 1.5 miles from this morning and then the walking. It’ll be interesting to see how I do when I repeat this session in a month’s time. Funny sort of running day but it’s done and I feel good about having gone out again and done it. Black puppy dog put firmly in its place

Oh yeah, it’s Sunday – I was supposed to have a saintly week – I didn’t. The scales are still resolutely staying the same.